On Sunday 8th June 2014 I attended the LDWA Poppyline Marathon. In honour of it’s 30th year they’d increased the distance from 26 to 30 miles, with a 20 mile option for people with sense. The LDWA didn’t seem to mind a bunch of runners hijacking their walking event which was good as I think about 50% of the entrants were runners.
The race HQ was Sherringham High School. And after checking in I tried to fathom the route description.
BR, then FL by PSB, through gap in HG, SLOT, across Fd (275)
This was the sort of code system that I would need to navigate 30 miles around the North Norfolk countryside. BR = bear right, FL = fork left, HG = hedge, PSB = Poop Scoop Bin!, etc
There were absolutely no route markers to follow. With my terrible navigation “skills” I was a little worried.
It was a glorious day, barely a cloud in the sky, a nice day to be sat in the garden… but at 9am the runners set off. Initially we headed eastwards through Sherringham, then inland on what would become a clockwise circle of the countryside. Did I mention it was hot… Checkpoint 1 was after about 6 miles in Cromer and I’d already drunk about a litre of water!
Some large meadows, cattle girds and a remote church and I arrived at checkpoint 2 at Sustead. Lots of fruit – oranges and melon, perfect food for the weather.
Somewhere before checkpoint 3 I went a little off-track and had to be called back. I hadn’t gone far wrong, but the delay meant I got stuck behind about 20 walkers on a narrow path through some crops. At checkpoint 3 I changed my t-shirt, refilled water and ate a little. Here the routes diverged with the 30 milers heading further west.
At about mile 17 we passed Baconsthorpe Castle, a rather large ruin with moat – looked like a nice place to take the kids.
The last few miles were along the coastal path and I recognised some parts around Kelling Heath from the Norfolk Coastal Ultra last year.
Some tree cover here at times. The Poppyline steam train chuffed past. Then running alongside the cliff-top golf course.
And at about mile 29 there was a monster hill, up to the coastguard lookout – just what I needed. At least it was slightly cooler now by the sea. Down the hill and back into Sherringham, past the Poppyline railway station and back to the school.
I finished in 5 hours 50 mins – not quick but not too bad considering the heat.
The coded route description was actually very effective, but it does require quite a lot of concentration. It had about 6 different terms for track! Before this I had no idea there was a difference between a loke, a track and a green lane.
Really well organised event and a complete bargain event at only £8.
Vinny Purdy, a North Norfolk Beach Runner, made this his 100th marathon! Amazing achievement. He’s raising funds for a Nelson’s Journey here.